The Australian Greens have backed a High Court challenge to the indefinite detention of refugees who have been issued with adverse security assessments by ASIO, a move the party says supports the Greens announcement this week to amend the ASIO act to allow for appeal rights and review mechanisms for refugees and asylum seekers.
"This challenge matters because it is simply not fair that a person can be detained, possibly for the rest of their life, and never be able to contest a claim ASIO has made against them," Greens' immigration and human rights spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.
"The cloud of secrecy over the current system means men, women and children are caught in a legal-black hole, incarcerated without charge or trial and given no idea of the reasons why. We don't accept this for Australian citizens who under the ASIO Act are able to appeal an assessment made against them and it is just as unacceptable for vulnerable refugees.
"All we are asking for is a fair, just and due process that allows those detained indefinitely by the Immigration Minister as a result of ASIO's assessment to be able to put their case and have a fair right of reply, just like is done in New Zealand, Canada and the UK.
"It is shameful that currently 57 refugees including 6 children are locked in detention possibly for the rest of their lives with no right of appeal or even an explanation as to why. The current policy is tearing families apart and putting children at serious risk. A number of the children have never been outside of a detention facility ¬¬- this is not the fair-go Australia we ought to be.
"The legal challenge puts the government on notice that it must fix the laws that stop a person from being able to know ASIO's statement of reasons against them. This was one of the main recommendations from the recent Parliamentary Inquiry into the Immigration Network.
"The government can make these changes through the Greens' bill announced this week which will amend the ASIO Act. It gives refugees a statement of reasons for an ASIO decision, create periodic six-month reviews of ASIO assessments, allow the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to hold merits reviews and creates a Special Advocate for sensitive national security matters.
"The Opposition may argue there is no need to change the ASIO Act, but Australian citizens can challenge an adverse security assessment. It is fair and proper that this be extended to non-citizens Australia has deemed are refugees who need our protection."